Friday Fable. Aesop’s “THE FOX AND THE STORK”*

Posted by jlubans on December 21, 2012

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“Do no harm - if someone does get hurt, then turn-about is fair play, as this fable cautions. 
The fox is said to have started it by inviting the stork to dinner and serving a liquid broth on a marble slab which the hungry stork could not so much as taste. The stork, in turn, invited the fox to dinner and served a narrow-mouthed jug filled with crumbled food. The stork was able to thrust her beak inside and eat as much as she wanted, while her guest was tormented with hunger. As the fox was licking the neck of the jug in vain, the stork is supposed to have said, 'When others follow your example, you have to grin and bear it.'”

Translator’s Note: “Caxton supplies the English proverb 'with the staf which he had made he was bete.'” **

The fox was cute, the stork cuter. One or the other goes hungry. A winner? Maybe, if “getting even” is a “win”, as the promythium condones. Politicians (elected and appointed) pull this sort of one-ups-manship. I recall wanting to move my professional association into a new area of service. Several colleagues and I were riding a popular wave among the membership to do just that. If we succeeded – it was fairly certain we would - the traditional groups might lose dues-paying members leaving for our new, inclusive, organization. One of the traditional groups, at the urging of its president, created its own subgroup for the new service (which it had resisted doing for many years) and thus retained many of their members. Problem was that this kept the old divisions in place and handicapped, to this day, the necessary open discussion among all participants. You might say the outcome was a half-a -loaf, which was better than none. Kind of like the fox and the stork, because of their petty behavior, getting one meal instead of two!
My colleagues and I did get the unacknowledged bragging rights for the creation of the new subgroup. Without our efforts - perceived as a "threat" - the subgroup might never have been.

*Source: Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura Gibbs. Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.

**Seems akin to being “Hoist on one’s own petard!” Or, to quote Hamlet, “Hoist with his owne petar.” In English, “petard” is an obsolescent word for a type of “bomb” for blowing down gates and doors. In French, ‘péter’ means “to fart”, a not unrelated image.

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